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Lund University

How to search for scientific information, adapted to available search tools at Lund University

Different types of publications (sources)

Scientific articles

A research article (or original article or research paper) is an article published in an academic journal where researchers publish the results of their original, empirical research. Research articles typically follow a particular format (often denoted IMRAD) and include specific elements that show how the research study was designed, how the data was gathered, how it was analyzed, and what the conclusions are.

A review article is an attempt by one or more scientists to sum up and analyze the current state of the research on a particular topic. Since a review article sums up results published in primary research articles it is a secondary source.


Textbooks offer a broad-based foundation to the study of subject. There are also more advanced textbooks, but still textbooks contain well established knowledge and the latest findings are (usually) not included.

Specialist topic books deals with more narrow topics in a more scientific way. Specialist topic books are often edited i.e. the different chapters in the book are written by different authors who are experts at their part of the topic respectively. In edited books it is the chapter that is the entity you are using as a source and what you are going to write a reference to.

Reports are written documents which present focused, salient content, generally to a specific audience. Reports are often published by different governmental bodies, i.e. Environmental Protection Agencies, but it is also common within business, education, science, and other fields, and are often to display the result of an experiment, investigation, or inquiry. Reports are not at all as strictly defined as a research article.



A website is a page or collection of pages on the World Wide Web that contains specific information which was all provided by one person or entity and traces back to a common Uniform Resource Locator (URL).


For more information (but still rather brief) about different publication types see Sources, citing and referencing at Biology Department, Lund University